Positively Sundrenched & Soul-Filled – The Third Annual Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Festival

An interview by Julie Horner with Stephen Wyman, co-producer of the annual Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Festival.

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JH: This has become a major outdoor festival for the area so how did you get into it?

SW: Ironically. I’ve been volunteering with Redwood Mountain Faire since its rebirth at Roaring Camp. And as one the owners of the Boulder Creek Brewery, I was interested in producing events that would help drive our business forward. And in broader terms, events that would help bring economic vitality to our community. Fill restaurants, fill motels, hire local folks, local food vendors, and provide artists with an outlet.

JH: How are you able to attract such amazing performers to the event?

SW: Michael Horne is the genius of the business partnership. He’s been a Santa Cruz promoter for over 30 years and has presented more than 3,000 shows! It is very complicated to put great lineups together, so it’s his years of relationships with musicians and agents.

JH: You’ve got Edward Sharpe, George Clinton, and Sheila E at the top of a really impressive lineup of artists.

SW: We have certain artists whom we truly admire and hope to bring to the Santa Cruz Mountains, artists that we and our community have a connection to. We try to bring a blend of classic and new artists. We consider the venue and our neighbors. Although we can’t make everyone happy, we try to be considerate.

JH:  Name some of the acts that you’re especially excited to have on board this year.

SW: That’s a loaded question, because every artist we book is a favorite for one reason or another. This year we were inspired by the loss of Prince. We talked lots about the influence he had on music and culture. And we also dug deeper in our discussions like who influenced Prince and how he was so into the 1970’s Bay Area music scene. He came to SF in 1978 to record in the studio used by Santana and other Bay Area greats. Sheila E.‘s dad, Pete Escovedo, was playing in Santana’s band at the time. So this led us to invite Sheila E. and Katdelic and to ask George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic. George Clinton is an icon and we feel the chance to share is now – George Clinton turned 75 this year!

JH: I would imagine the variety of music will appeal to all age groups. What have you got for the younger scene?

SW: On Saturday we have Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. They headlined Coachella this year and had a sold out show this spring at the Greek theater in Berkeley. They should bring some concert goers to Felton who haven’t visited our valley before. And I think folks my age will have a treat in discovering this kind of artist.

JH: It must be an enormous task transforming a quiet mountain meadow into an outdoor good-love-and-vibrations festival space.

SW: Aside from the monetary considerations, there are so many details to contend with. Routing, logistics, travel, backline, staging, etc. Multiply this by every artist timeslot over the course of the weekend and you start to get an idea of the juggling job that is required.

JH: How does the venue at Roaring Camp suit the event, do people just love it?

SW: We love Roaring Camp. It’s an amazing space. There is the beautiful meadow, parking, and some infrastructure. Attendees having been glowing about the festival. We have 4.9 stars out of 5. We’re working on the missing fraction! Roaring Camp and its director have been supportive: Roaring Camp is keenly interested in supporting economic vitality in the valley.

JH: More people than ever seem to be falling in love with summer festivals and I hear Mountain Sol is attracting more peeps! You guys must be feeling pretty stoked!

SW: We are steadily growing. It’s our third year. That’s like Wednesday in the festival business. We’re trying hard to get to the weekend.

JH: What makes the Sol Fest so wonderful?

SW: Our event is a boutique festival. It’s small compared to most music festivals. It’s intimate. Everyone is close to the stage. Festival goers feel a direct connection to the artists and to their community. You’re not looking at a giant live video screen. You are there and in it.

JH: So this festival is all ages and locally do-able.

SW: Named by many of our fans as “the hometown throw down,” it’s more like a community party. We see our neighbors and friends there. People are generally kind and thoughtful – watching out for each other. We attract a wide range of guests: Local families, couples, and college-age young adults.

JH: What can festival goers expect from this year’s festival as far as good vibes, food, and things to purchase?

SW: In addition to our amazing artist lineup, there will be local food vendors, artists, a kid’s area, and of course train rides!

JH: What would you advise people to bring with them?

SW: Bring a hat, refillable water bottles (free filtered water is available), ear plugs for the kids if you’re bringing young children, a designated driver…NO drinking and driving! No, no, no! Low back folding chairs and blankets are allowed but please no dogs and no bad attitudes. DO bring smiles, an open heart, and dancing shoes!

JH: I was at last year’s festival and had such a relaxing, boogie-filled uplifting time! What makes you the happiest about putting on the Sol Fest?

SW: When folks in the community stop me to tell me what wonderful time they had!

Santa Cruz Mountain Sol Festival September 17-18, 2016 Roaring Camp Meadows. Felton, California 95018 On Facebook: www.facebook.com/scmsfest

Tickets: www.santacruzmountainsol.com/tickets.shtml

Email: info@santacruzmountainsol.com

This article was originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin: http://mountainbulletin.com/article/positively-sundrenched-soul-filled/

Wax Moon – Like a Small Fire Burning

By Julie Horner

The sound of two voices bound together in spare, earthy harmony touches a vaulted ceiling – natural elements provide an enveloping warmth, rusted steel, handmade paper and melted beeswax. Walls hum and the space between fills with the subtle yearning of souls leaning unconsciously forward. Spellbound by shared imagining and hands clasped virtually walking as one the well-worn paths of human experience through simple storytelling.

“We’re all part of it – acoustic music,” says guitarist and vocalist for Wax Moon, John Blatchford. “Paul and I have been experimenting with space – space being occupied – giving it room. It’s tricky: Two guitarists, two voices, creating as much room to breathe as possible.”

Singer/songwriter and guitarist, Paul Kimball, adds that the sound of their duo, Wax Moon, is “personal, intimate…we put the lyrics up front. The music is deceptively simple…we try to create as much complexity while still keeping it simple.”

Sensational in the Bay Area house concert scene, Wax Moon is making a habit of playing unusual, “completely awesome” performance spaces, debuting locally on June 11 at lille aeske in downtown Boulder Creek. With two acoustic guitars “played only with their fingers,” in this venue they can sing at a volume that’s appropriate to their songs and “isn’t behind a coffee maker.”

John is a recording engineer, sax player and veteran of hard working bands living, for the moment, in San Francisco. Paul, who writes all the lyrics for Wax Moon, lives in San Jose. He says, “I picked up a disdain for country music while living in Texas and found a love for punk rock.” At some point he was reintroduced to folk music, “a strange meandering path that took them back to country down to Americana.” A mutual friend got them together a couple of years ago. They felt a natural musical connection and started working on their own music not long after that. “It helps that it’s just two of us, all matters are easy to resolve. We take it pretty seriously but there isn’t as much stress as bands with lots of members. We’re not about making a brand but more about creating the moment.”

Their debut EP, Ready or Not, was released in November 2015. “We’ve done a lot of work in the past with rich overdubs. Now we’re focusing on the songs themselves, being as in-the-moment as possible, accepting the vagaries of whatever happens.” Ready or Not is a compilation of live takes, basically capturing the essence of what they do.

“We’ve chosen to record the way that we play. When you’re isolating tracks you can become kind of obsessive.” Recording their way means “the music is performed in its natural habitat” – the control room and live room are the same room. “We’re in a room, hanging out playing music and there just happens to be a person there twiddling knobs.”

Wax Moon transcends “the intersection of visual art and music – we can create new experiences that way.” And it’s another reason why lille aeske is such a perfect fit. “It’s like picking up a conversation. We’re such a small unit, creating the energy in a small space…like a small fire burning.”

Paul says, “What’s important to me as a writer is that you’re communicating – it’s a communion with people – you’re making people want to lean into it. We don’t have the advantage of 150 watt amps…it takes a skilled listener to appreciate.

“A big thing for me in this is the vocal harmonizing…that’s something we can really grow with…I just love singing harmonies with John…it’s so frickin’ flattering to sing with.”

As a newer group, they’re “encompassing liftoff in small batches.” Their most recent digital EP, called Cool Blue Heat, is a continuation of music from the first recording with broader themes while still being very simple and spaced around simple melodies and harmonies. It also includes a booklet featuring artwork by Renee French with lyrics and a fanzine. “People like to have something to take home with them to remember the show…give them something they don’t already have.”

John says the new music is modest on some levels and he’d like to keep developing the “artistical” for larger audiences. “If you have ears and heart you’ll enjoy this.” No strings are attached to this process. “This has been more of a clinic for me – Paul has been such a prolific songwriter – like a master class on how to write songs.” John continues, “I was always wrapped up in the music. I’m such a saxophone melody person that the words layered on top weren’t as meaningful. Now it’s awesome to focus on the storyline instead of the backdrop.”

Wax Moon’s music is intimate and stripped down to the essential; their shared faith in the power of song is the way they connect with audiences and with one another. There’s an inherent optimistic humanism, even while veering towards the melancholy. If they take you to difficult places, you can be confident that Wax Moon will also walk you safely back from the edge.

Everything is so damn fragile
Every goddam thing we’ve got
Here right now, lost in a minute
Whether you’re ready or whether you’re not
Whether you’re ready or not – Title track from Ready or Not by Wax Moon

On the Web: http://waxmoonmusic.com/home

Live at lille aeske June 11, 2016: http://www.facebook.com/events/273869662950009/

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: leap2three@gmail.com

This article was originally published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin: http://mountainbulletin.com/

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Farewell to Sacred Soil – Hunter Hill Vineyard and Winery

By Julie Horner

It was an hour before sunrise and absolutely still outside. Not a breath of wind, not a sound. So quiet even the dog was spooked. Then a lone killdeer started its plaintive cry. Last year most of the lakes in Montana still had ice on them in April and the snow hung around well into the month. According to the local groundhog, Montana Murray, spring is coming early this year.

Vann Slatter and Christine Carter Slatter, winemakers at Hunter Hill Vineyard and Winery, are selling the family estate and moving to Montana soon. Or at least that’s the plan. “We are selling everything, hopefully: Home, winery, vineyard and all the equipment for farming and winemaking. We are hoping for the best and a new adventure!”

In the meantime, they have their cabin in Gustine, CA where they spend winters duck hunting, and they plan to go back and forth to Soquel until they sell.

“When we first started the winery we didn’t have a business plan.” They thought, “We’re just growing grapes, making a little wine,” Christine said.

Located in the Santa Cruz mountains northeast of Soquel, Christine and Vann first started growing grapes on the family’s fruit ranch in 1990. Soon the self-taught winemakers were winning awards. “Little by little we’ve put in grapes where the apple farm was…it was supposed to be a hobby. My husband – I call him a visionary – said we were going to grow a few grapes and sell a little wine here and there…”

Now known best for their Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, Hunter Hill Winery makes rich red wines grown on lands formerly thick with redwood forest. “Clay, loam, redwood…wine is a product of the soil,” Christine told me.

Christine’s grandparents bought the acreage in 1906 for a $50 gold piece. The property was logged of its redwood trees, the stumps dynamited away, and the original house, still family occupied, was one of the first built on Glen Haven Road. Her grandfather would haul the harvest by horse and wagon to sell as far away as Boulder Creek. Married just a few years, Vann and Christine took over the property from Christine’s mother in 1968.

Vann grew up in Capitola, “a beach boy,” Christine says, and graduated from Soquel High. He served his country as a Navy Seal, completing three tours of duty. He started Slatter Construction in 1984. In that kind of business, she says, “You become involved in the community.”

Christine grew up in Pasatiempo and considers herself more of a “hill person.” “I’ve always loved the mountains, there are so many fun places you can go to: Forest Pool, the Trout Farm, Pasatiempo Pool, Hollins House…”

“Mountain folk usually stay to themselves. The winery has brought the neighborhood together.”

She tries to be at the tasting room every weekend when they open in spring, greeting everyone she can at the door with a hug. She likes to keep things small, preferring intimate pourings for wine club members and locals who stop in for a sip and a sit in the sun by the pond. The grounds teem serenely with life on a relaxing summer day – dogs, kids, a babbling water feature flitting with wild birds, and occasional live acoustic music.

Long a member of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, Hunter Hill has poured at area festivals such as The Scotts Valley Art Wine and Beer Festival, Boulder Creek’s Santa Cruz Mountain Art and Wine Festival, and Capitola Art and Wine Festival, to name a few. For many groups, including Santa Cruz Cancer Benefit’s Gourmet Grazing on the Green in Aptos; Valley Churches United Missions, Tasting Under the Redwoods; and Congregational Church of Soquel, Taste of Soquel, Hunter Hill has graciously donated their wine. “This is still one of the most important things that makes money for all these people – wine is the big sell, it’s all local”

Locally you’ll find Hunter Hill wines at Boulder Creek Pizza and Pub and Redwood Keg Liquor and Deli, and other shops around the valley.

As they prepare for the eventual sale of the land and winery and for leaving the rural California coastal mountain lifestyle they’ve known all their lives, Christine said her favorite moments have been those spent with visitors and friends “sharing this piece of property that we feel is fairly sacred – it’s family property.” And there is the resounding satisfaction of knowing that they’ve done something wonderful with the land.

Hunter Hill Vineyard and Winery
7099 Glen Haven Road, Soquel, CA 95073
(831) 465-9294

On the Web: http://www.hunterhillwines.com/

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: leap2three@gmail.com

Curating the Sustainable Aesthetic ~ Foundre

By Julie Horner

Low light spills warmly through watery storefront windows at the quiet and otherwise dark south end of town next to the empty hull of the once buzzing Boulder Creek Brewery. A minimalist frieze of objects, iron, wood, fabric and paper, are melded symmetrically in tandem displays – artifacts dancing on the imagination, suspended in their

cases, as if on stage. The word “Foundre,” burned with blue fire onto a sheet of rusted metal, hangs under the eaves welcoming visitors to duck through the open double doors and over the well-worn stoop.

Boot heels resonate upon the 100-year old wood planks stained dark with use and age, the boards undulating and creaking here and there as the floors of storied old buildings do. The ceiling soars high above giving the space an immediate openness that invites visitors to move among compelling displays, islands of hand-curated wares carefully placed just where the eye lands and the heart seeks to go. Curiosities large and small, from homespun tableware to African made jewelry and utensils; pillows, serving vessels, found objects and the rustic, reclaimed, and re-purposed…most pieces chosen to support worthy global causes or to celebrate the exceptional talent of amazing friends.

By day, the cheery chiffon yellow Victorian, which was home to The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union dating from 1892, is a Santa Cruz County historical landmark and is arguably one of the most handsome buildings downtown. It stands miraculously unscathed after the Brewery fire in March of 2015, an evening that Foundre proprietor, curator and designer, Stephanie Hauck, still cannot bring herself to talk about fully: “There was no smoke in this building. I don’t know how it has survived…earthquakes, fires…” The building remains, enduring and elegant, nestled between one of Boulder Creek’s charming garden alleyways and the busy Scarborough lumberyard.

Stephanie describes how she captures the aesthetic for Foundre, “I buy things that I love…I enjoy small artisan goods,” especially if there’s a cause she can get behind. She carries Sasa Designs for the Deaf, for instance, which offers empowering opportunities for disadvantaged African jewelry artists. She also invites artist friends to display their work on her walls. “I am lucky to be gifted with a 6th sense for finding talented people,” including Santa Cruz iron sculpture artist, Payson Foster McNett, who was featured at Foundre’s recent “Found Friday” community art walk and whose installations are still on display at Foundre through the month of December. She has plans to feature a different artist every month.

A sweeping theater-sized curtain separates cozy, well-appointed living quarters at the back of the building from mercantile space at the front, suggesting a place for stagecraft where the honesty of artistic expression is confessed. “I live here, this is my home…the shop is an extension of my personal aesthetic.” And it continues to evolve. “Creativity fills my soul. I’ve never spent a day without being inspired.”

Impressed by Sarah and James Mackessy’s lille aeske studio, and Scott Graham and Cristy Aloysi’s Viscosity Glass, both located midtown, she also draws inspiration from Jorah and Andi’s rusty Americana meets back-to-the-earth at Mountain Feed in Ben Lomond. “Mountain Feed is one of my favorite places on the planet. They’re one of the reasons why I thought I could make a go of it.” These stores opened “with a vibrance and change…we’re all new to here and we’ve migrated toward each other in a very organic way.” These spaces lend themselves to art and music. “The town is hungry for that,” she says. “We care about making a great community.”

Even with the loss of the Brewery, Stephanie is hopeful. “I just want it to be positive. I want to stay and have it work.” There is a synchronistic nature to what’s happening now. “It’s the right direction for the town.”

Stephanie also takes on a variety of creative projects including professional wedding planning, special events, gifting (corporate or personal), and holiday decorating. She simply delights in exploring new opportunities, including re-designing Boulder Creek’s Goble Coffee Roasting Company’s image: They are now “Coffeeville.” She carries the locally roasted whole bean coffee among the finery on her shelves. “They are my friends, I want them to be successful, sustainable.”

Foundre is a truly eclectic collective of the delicious and the divine, the name itself reflecting something found and something created, as molten metal might be cast into a new form, repurposed to a better use. Indeed, the concept mirrors a vision of transformation: To build upon the best a small town has to offer, changing the business model to attract visitors, the curious and the passionate, to invest in the energy that is already happening.

Chat about tapping in to Boulder Creek’s potential, reach out, and ask questions any time: stephanie@thefoundre.com

Foundre is located at 13026 Highway 9, Boulder Creek CA 95006

Open Wednesdays through Saturdays, and by appointment
info@thefoundre.com
831 703 4692

On the Web: www.thefoundre.com

On Facebook: www.facebook.com/thefoundre

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. Email: leap2three@gmail.com On the Web: santacruzmountainslocal.com

Abundance Santa Cruz Mountains – Bargetto Winery

Showcasing Santa Cruz Mountains Wineries and Vineyards

By Julie Horner

Summertime’s simple pleasures are in abundance in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Time stretches long and luxurious, sun drenched days followed by clear starry nights which seem to last forever; shafts of light part morning mists with welcome warmth and the gentle urgency of things to do. Sumptuous tastes appeal: Small plates, fresh bounty from the garden, and hand-crafted wines from local slopes.

Small vineyards tucked into quiet hillsides coax fruit from the vines, most notably Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. More than fifty wineries work their art in the Santa Cruz Mountains and invite the curious to sample. A Sunday drive along any of our sun-dappled mountain byways will take you to the doorstep of earthly sensation and connection to the mountains themselves.

At a recent winemaker’s dinner at Casa Nostra, Ben Lomond’s piping hot spot for well coddled Italian fare, assistant winemaker at Bargetto Winery, Bobby Graviano, spent his 28th birthday introducing enthusiasts to sensational pairings featuring some of the winery’s most popular pours. The 2014 Pinot Grigio, “with hints of bright grapefruit, sweet pear, and apple,” paired with bruschetta verde and crostini rock shrimp with pesto. A 2014 Pinot Noir, “bright and fruit forward with rich cherry, currant, rosemary, and cedar” paired with penne Contadina, onion, mushroom, rosemary, chicken, and tomato in a light cream sauce. Bargetto’s 2012 Merlot reserve, grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains, complimented the filet mignon, potatoes, and green beans “with the aromas of black licorice, cherry, and black currants with a lingering hint of vanilla spice and oak.” And the dark chocolate mousse danced on the tongue with the 2012 Lodi old vine Zin while the birthday song was sung.

Bargetto Winery, located in Soquel, began producing wine in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1933. Known for estate grown varietals, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay, the flavors rich and intense, the third-generation Bargetto family still lives on the property to carry on the tradition. The oldest winery in Santa Cruz County, the craft itself has been handed down to upcoming young artists, Santa Cruz winemaker Olivia Teutschel, and assistant winemaker, Bobby Graviano, imparting a youthful freshness of spirit to the making.

The tasting room is easy to find on North Main Street nearer to town than expected. Bobby took me on a tour of the cellars where the wine is aged, depending on variety and point in the process, in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and 60 gallon barrels made from French, American, and Hungarian oak.

Bobby graduated from the Cal Poly wine and viticulture program and told me that wine making “sounded like a cool major.” His favorite moments in wine making are spent in the cellars and the lab attending to the finer art of the science of it, monitoring the fermentation process, pH, and sugars. He is proud of Bargetto’s four tiers of Pinot, the lightest of all the reds, which grow best in Santa Cruz Mountains cooler climate and “won’t leave you puckered.” He also noted Bargetto’s unique flagship wine, La Vita (“the life” in Italian), which blends three estate grown northern Italian red varietals, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Refosco. The bottle label features a different local artist each year with proceeds going to a new charity annually. He says Bargetto is a smaller winery, producing less than 50,000 cases a year, and they bottle on-premises, a unique distinction.

He loves “the great atmosphere and great people” at the winery with live music nights and special events in the tasting room and on the patio overlooking Soquel creek. Locals have been going there for decades. “It’s been around forever. I talk to people my parent’s age and they say, ‘I used to go to that place back in the 70s!’” Some wines are sold only in the tasting rooms, like the Petite Sirah and the blends, which are made in limited quantity. Other specialties, like Chaucer’s fruit wines and honey mead, a traditionally sweet sip that harkens to Medieval England, are available in local markets and nationwide.

Look for Bargetto Winery at The Scotts Valley Art, Wine and Beer Festival at Sky Park on Saturday August 15, 2015.

Santa Cruz Tasting Room
3535 North Main Street
Soquel, CA 95073
(831) 475-2258 ext. 14
Hours: Open Daily 12:00 – 5:00
www. bargetto.com

Monterey Tasting Room
700-G Cannery Row
Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 373-4053
Hours: Sun – Thurs. 11:00 – 6:30
Fri – Sat 11:00 – 7:00

(c) 2015 Julie Horner
Originally written for and published in the Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin: http://mountainbulletin.com/article/bargetto-winery/

Julie Horner is an Irish folk musician and writer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California.
Email: leap2three@gmail.com
On the Web: http://www.santacruzmountainslocal.com

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